Obamacare Back at Supreme Court

U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in another challenge to the Affordable Care Act.
3:00 | 03/04/15

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Transcript for Obamacare Back at Supreme Court
It is round two for Obama care at the Supreme Court at issue whether taxpayer funded premium subsidies that. Underpinned the entire law are legal. Depending on how the Supreme Court rules seven point five million Americans who receive these subsidies to purchase health insurance we'll be affected. I'm tired Hernandez in New York a seven point five million people live in the 34 states that have exchanges set up and run by the federal government. And here with more as ABC's Jonathan Karl and Kate shot John the stakes are high here what happens. If this Supreme Court strikes down subsidies in those states where the federal government's exchange. The stakes are incredibly high here it just got out of the courtroom in. An indication of how high the stakes aren't you had. The congressional leadership there Kevin McCarthy a number two Republican in the house was there Nancy Pelosi a several of the senators that were. Instrumental in drafting this law all there to watch these arguments on old. The plaintiffs win here as you mentioned you could have seven point five million potentially many more than seven point five million. Americans immediately lose subsidies to buy health insurance it would happen immediately Beazer subsidies that can be on average more than a hundred dollars a month for many people. It's much more than that effectively if they lose their subsidies. They would lose their ability to buy health insurance. Us of the implications are huge offer really the signature achievements. The single should the signature accomplishment for President Obama and his first term. Very lively hearing I would like to bring in a right now ABC's Kate shut off our new us Supreme Court consultant. Who was in that in the court with me today of listing of that. Case on hold. Fascinating. But let me ask you listening to the justices. Asking the questions of the two attorneys. Could you get any sense of how the argument decide this case we'll look pretty clear to me like the four liberal justices Ginsburg Breyer Kagan and Sotomayor were pretty sympathetic to the government's arguments are not gonna. Invalidate subsidies and the states that don't have Aaron exchanges. Justice Scalia and justice we'll ask really tough questions on the government seemed pretty sympathetic to the challenger's side. I'm justice Thomas and ethnic questions but it seems not fair to assume that he'll probably be with Scalia and Alito. And that she didn't say much in some ways everyone is watching the chief justice and it was really hard to tell which way he was leaning Justice Kennedy asking tough questions of both sides all the seemed concerned. About the impact on the state that might not have realized what they were going to be facing it in an apparent extra. As it was fascinating dynamic and theirs he did it in and you see so many of these cases but. How instantly the justices are interrupting and asking questions of each side I mean. Ruth Bader Ginsburg didn't wait ten seconds before she interrupted the plaintiff in this case. And and seen the the four liberals who very hostile to the idea. Of striking down this provision of the law. Bomb but you know Justice Kennedy. I could read all where he won. He's generally really concerned about states rights oh so the typical questions he asked about what the state to be facing navy without real notice about the consequences. I'm it would seem to maybe be good news for the government. But I think he asked tough questions of both sides I think I'm Justice Kennedy the Chief Justice are. I'll probably the two most important votes here I think coming out of the argument is really difficult to predict which are lighter moments ago. And and the impact of course would be massive and this was an issue that came off particularly by closer general. Rally. Justice Scalia seemed to say well congress can fiction but you know this is gonna created disruptions. If the plaintiffs prevail. But congress can can can fix that. And throwing at a very kind of funny of the courtroom kind of erupted in laughter saying. This congress. Think it. He served as well come on that's not realistically none of the congress is having a very difficult time getting anything done distant sentencing judge that they would be able to pass the bill that would fix this problem. Just isn't realistic right it doesn't believe the answer is well. That's not really our job to predict right that's sort of job of the political branches on either Miller won't ask an art not mystery this township and he really thinks the statute says. The subsidies are only available Wednesday that a parent exchanges and so he's not really concerned about congressman you. And he said if the if that's that you're ruling. Interpreting a statute that way that provision of the law that small provision those for five words that way our results and undermining the entire law. So be it right they wrote bad laws right. Want to make an argument with Nancy Pelosi frank senator Dick Durbin and senator Chris Dodd former superstar who wrote most of this law us in and looking on. Yes there are a lot of members there and I was her desserts or see what was going through their heads but. But I need to their there was a little there was a bit of discussion of what what happens next if the subsidies do that struck down to the states moved to the federal government moved. And different justices we'll take different views about how. Appropriate those kinds of questions are even their consideration this case a case the last question. Did the justices ruled Mitt big decision presumably by the end of June. There was one suggestion very brief suggestion by slow but Justice Alito if they rule to knock down these subsidies in these 34 states. That they could. Stay there are rolling in other words up quite a period of a year a year and a half. But to give time for the political system to fix the problem before the subsidies become you know on Don is that possible. So this is an interesting moment in the argument there was the suggestion made that may be the court essentially delay implementation of its ruling until safety and a 2015. So that it so that the existing subsidy calculations would remain in effect for the full year in every state not just that 6% of their own exchanges. That it would be unusual but not unprecedented for the court to do something like that so I think I would imagine how come off an injustice discussion of the case. Spiritually all right Kate Shaw welcome to ABC news thank you very much. Tie back to you. All right John that it fascinating look at at some of the legal ramifications there but I wanted to ask you this is obviously a signature piece of legislation for this president. What happens to his legacy if this is studded. As you said early it's sad time for ruling would be sometime in June but what happens if he loses. Boy if he loses this could undermine the entire health care law because it not only affects those 34 states yes the most immediate effect. But if you have a situation. Where people are unable to afford insurance. Through those exchanges they no longer have their subsidies. You have what is what would help kennels called the death spiral where only those that are really sick. And really need apps we desperately need to have that helped the church immediately will stay in. And and buy health insurance the others wolf wolf wolf wolf head out and not be part of the system and you could have been a real situation where effectively. The health care law is bloodied nationally that is the big fear here that's what the solicitor general the United States who was defending the law. That's the case he was making this is just the implications here a would be profound talking to members of congress coming out of the of the courtroom. It did it in a very similar wolf both parties are very similar view on this in fact one prominent Republican who I spoke to coming out of this. Even though it's the Republicans that have challenged this is worried about what happens next told me on this would be incredibly difficult challenge. To think that congress would come in and find a way to actually fix this problem. Basically it means the end of obamacare that's something Republicans. Might say that they would like in the and have been fighting for. But it also means it immediately a great deal of pain for millions of people are who are going to lose their subsidies to buy health insurance. So much riding on ABC's Jonathan Karl legal expert Kate shopping so much for joining us thanks. You keep up with the story in real time by downloading the ABC news happened starring this story for exclusive updates on ago. Anti Hernandez in New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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